HARRISON, Ohio — Eric Weiss’ best possible future involves his condo collapsing, he said Tuesday night. He can’t pay to hold back a sliding hillside and look for a new home at the same time.
“Honestly, the only thing that will keep my family from financial ruin at this point is if the building falls,” he said. “If the building doesn’t fall, we’re in for a world of hurt.”
Weiss, his wife and their young son were among more than a dozen families evacuated from Building 13 of the Legacy by Fischer Homes condo development after a mudslide early Sunday morning. The hillside had been eroding before then, according to other residents, but first responders said the weekend’s torrential rains washed away much more.
By the time the sun rose Monday, Weiss’ patio was flush with a brand-new canyon. He and other homeowners spent that day and the next searching for someone to hold responsible — original developer Fischer Homes, which insisted it had not managed the property since 2010? The Homeowners’ Association?
Both groups reached an agreement at a Tuesday night meeting: They would hire two engineers and develop a short-term plan to stop the creeping erosion from becoming more dangerous. Much of the cost, which is estimated at around $100,000, would transfer to the condos’ owners.
Rita Wilson, who lives in the development but not the affected building, said Tuesday she resented Fischer Homes’ unwillingness to take full responsibility for what had happened.
“This is just not our problem, but they’re making it our problem,” she said. “What can you do?”
She also claimed Fischer ignored past reports of landslides and other issues on the property until Sunday’s impossible-to-ignore mudslide arrived. She remained ill at ease about the response when it finally came.
“I’m sure we’ll all work it out and they’ll work it out, and everyone will go away happy,” she said. “Or they’ll just go away.”
Wilson added she was a 10-year resident of the small community and did not plan to leave.
Weiss, on the other hand, returned with his coworkers and took everything out of his condo — every piece of furniture, article of clothing clothing and Command strip on the wall.
“We don’t plan on coming back,” he said. “We don’t believe any fix they do will fix this. We don’t believe it will be safe.”
He, his wife and son were staying with family Tuesday night, and Fischer Homes had agreed to provide a stipend to displaced families.
Still, if they have to help pay for repairs to the hillside while also searching for a new permanent place to live, he isn’t sure what he’ll do.
“I don’t have a house right now,” he said. “I have a son who I have to take care of. A wife I have to take care of. I have to figure it out. Take the punches as they come, and roll with it.”